Aircraft Wash: A tale of desertion, drenched in sorrow.

By: Jinx Da Clown

Jets had passed over head, several times a day, across SSgt Connor’s 15-day leave. Yet his mind felt the elapsed time was no more than that of a single sortie. His leave took him no further than home. His days were filled with video games, energy drinks, and 5-minute elicit videos – twice daily to ensure 12-ounce curl strength.

The staycation did the trick. His muscles were just sore enough from inactivity that work spiked positive thoughts. The vibes were in his favor, so-much-so that he only pulled one monster from the passenger seat as he left the car. Typically he double-fisted the kick-ass concentrate for work days; three on particularly rough days. But not this day, he would need no more than one to make it through.

He slammed the car door shut, sealing his leave as complete with a button push and beep.

Pungent wash solvent aromas greeted him at the security fence like an unwanted welcome from a slobbery dog. No worries, his jet hit the rack a week ago, while he was on leave – such a shame. No need to hide his chuckle, no one was around, and his perfectly executed plan deserved one last praise.

The perfect plan: His jet needed a wash, had needed a wash. He wasn’t the type to wipe down a jet to make washes easier, never seemed to make a wash go quicker anyway. Not to mention that when he was an airman the wash super didn’t have to wash. Bullshit policy change meant – now that he was wash super – that he had to wash with the airmen. But not this time. He had a new supervisor and slipped a leave request in, can’t wash if absent. TSgt Schmid didn’t know the policy, so he could take the heat one time. And so SSgt Connor took leave, and avoided the shitty task.

A single ass-chewing took place, over the phone, about his actions. SSgt Connor couldn’t believe his punishment was a berating over the phone. He simply apologized and continued jerking – his arm up to drink frosty beverages.

All was well, and he could count this as a win, not many of those came around.

The break room was empty, or at least empty of those that mattered. A few airmen frantically finished forms before Five came looking. SSgt Connor continued his stride and positioned himself in front of his favorite computer. Maybe his plan, his 15-day leave was the beginning of a new, perfect career. One where he would receive the respect deserved.

It took less time for him to down his energy drink than for his email to update. No matter. He wouldn’t need to sip on this day, the day of new beginnings.

Outlook completed the inbox update as he belched out the energy drink’s gaseous byproduct. There was only one high priority email, and it was from TSgt Schmid. Confusion strapped to SSgt Connor’s face; the email read: check the board. Nothing else.

SSgt Connor followed his confusion to Five’s board. On approach nothing was out of place. But something stood out. A board typically covered in foul cartoons, flying schedules, and poor handwriting had a new set of papers taped up, titled: Wash Schedule. His happiness dropped to his gut, heavy and demanding to be shit out.

The smell. He smelled wash soap at the gate. He regained focus and scurried his finger across the small print for the date. Not hard to do, and the result as he expected; his name was written, tied to the task. A chuckle grew at his back, but he ignored.

“Keep going.” One of the airmen whispered through tearful chuckles.

SSgt Connor followed the schedule, down the line, his heart racing more, and more. The energy drinks and fear becoming a cardiac nightmare. But he kept reviewing, wiping sweat from his eyes, sure they were incorrect. They weren’t.

He finished fingering the entire list, and claimed defeat. His 15-day leave would be the last bit of happiness for at least six-fucking-months. He swayed backward, luckily into a chair, trying to gain composure.

The laughter rose and the crowd grew. He could feel there presence, their enjoyment of his certain fold, but he couldn’t focus on that. His focus was owned by the board, by the list, by his own name next to each aircraft wash for the next six-fucking-months.